Mixed Underground Art Exhibition Blaze opened to considerable fanfare last Sunday in Asagaya, Tokyo, and before I go any further I have to say that it is going to go on right till Sunday the 12th so if you are in Tokyo, you definitely don’t want to miss out on it. The exhibition itself is a celebration of the art and fashion that doesn’t find its place on any particular radar in the mainstream and mainly consists of some of the finest leather artists and silversmiths working in Tokyo today. A truly dizzying amount of talent all in one place, united by the fact that they don’t fit in, and don’t really want to. Regular readers of this site will know that even though I am always passionate about what is new and current in fashion culture, what really gets me excited is that of timeless substance, objects and clothes that reference ideas and culture that will always have relevance and transcend the idea of fashion as something that changes. Whether that be the fussy aggregation of ideas and historical influences that Share Spirit do so well or the simplicity of Rick Owens who draws attention to forms so primitive and fundamental that they defy description.
In Tokyo those artists on the fringes of culture are more often than not those who work in jewelry or sculpture, those mediums being compatible with a one man production team and of producing a handful of things of absolute value over many of none. Showcasing their underground art at Blaze, which I might add is going to be the first of many gatherings, are 4 of the best silversmiths in the industry today – LegioMade, Glam Scale, Dual Flow and Ability Normal – as well as the artist Chank Rock and Crafts Milch who makes wearable sculpture designed to be sensory depravation devices. In this first look at Blaze we are going to focus on Ability Normal, Dual Flow and Crafts Milch as to my shame I haven’t written about them previously despite owning work by them, and don’t worry, the rest of those artists will follow shortly.
We start with Ability Normal who is probably the most accessible of the group, his work mixing organic forms with gothic ideas that border on many ideas established by Giger. At his best he keeps things simple, allowing simple shapes to sprawl over his expansive designs, although his larger and very intricate work in brass does appeal to me enormously.
The business card case/wallet in the bottom right was wonderful in the flesh, every inch of it crawling with detail in silver and brass.
For more on Ability Normal you can pay his site a visit here
Next up is a frequent collaborator of Ability Normal, Dual Flow – a man who actually produces designs for very famous brands (that I cannot name) as there are few in the business as skilled at carving as this man.
Dual Flow’s work is consumed with tribal elements from around the world, whether it be Polynesian, Ainu or early Shinto and Buddhist imagery, he draws it all together and tries to find the common thread in it all.
If you doubt his carving, check out the dragon in the antler above – fantastic.
Love the abstract dragon cuff in the center,
and this tribal pipe with organic inset is to die for.
More on Dual Flow can be found here
On to Crafts Milch and this was one of his early designs that sent him down the path he is on to wearable art that focuses the senses, a reconstruction of an early diving suit.
From there his work become more and more visceral until he was producing work like the above that when worn completely isolates you allowing only tantalizing glimpses of light and fragments of distorted sound through the tubes.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the other half of the exhibition, it involves LegioMade and Glam Scale so you know it is going to be good.